Philadelphia announced plans for the first safe injection site in the nation at the Constitution Health Plaza just last week. However, a day later, the plans were cancelled, and the site was scrapped due to community backlash. A meeting was held at City Hall Monday with community members, Council members, and the non-profit Safe House to discuss the potential for a site. Council member Kenyatta Johnson from the 2nd district spoke on the negative repercussions of a site like this.
“This particular site in itself is unacceptable, just from the simple fact that you have children who are attending school in this facility and that whole quality of life in that immediate area can possibly go down as a result of this particular proposal.”
Philadelphia has one of the highest mortality rates from opioid overdose of any major city. Based off of statistics from the American Medical Association, opioid prevention services like this are shown to reduce the number of overdose deaths, reduce transmission of infectious disease, and increase the number of individuals initiating treatment.
Across the world, around 100 supervised safe injection sites exist. These sites have been under strict scrutiny from both the legal and medical community since their inception and there are currently no sites of this nature in the united states. While some community members are opposed to putting a site like this in, others are all for it. Local residents Alex Carlson and Katie Kreuger were both for the installation of the safe injection site.
Katie went on to explain her reasoning: “They provide safe places, that if someone were to overdose, they have the resources.”
As of now, there are no plans to reinstate the safe injection site. However, both sides continue to argue in City Hall about whether Philadelphia will ever consider opening a site like this and how that would work. According to the discussion held Monday, the proposed ordinance would be about the process, not the actual implementation of a site like this. The ordinance would require community approval from residents, businesses, and institutions within a one-mile radius of the site. It would also require consent from the City Council.